First, Did the Iraqi surge succeed? by Thomas E. Ricks, July 26, 2010:
Yes, if you think its purpose was to enable the United States to find a way to get out of Iraq with a few shreds of dignity. (But that would be cynical!) No, if you think its purpose was to improve security in such a way that Iraq would have a political breakthrough.
I dredge this all up because of a good article by young Leila Fadel in the Saturday edition of the Washington Post that examines how all the basic issues in Mosul remain unresolved. She writes that, "Kurdish and Sunni Arab leaders battle over disputed lands, provincial and central government officials wrestle for control, and Sunni insurgents continue to slip back and forth across the porous borders with Turkey and Syria."
This is a microcosm of Iraq's problems as a whole: There is no agreement on how to share oil revenue, no resolution of the basic relationship between the country's three major groups, and no decision on whether Iraq will have a strong central government or be a loose confederation. And no resolution on the future place of the Kurds and Kirkuk.
On the upside, it is going to be interesting to see how Iraqi officials treat journalists after there no longer are so many Americans about. Here's a taste that Fadel and her friends got from Iraqi Lt. Col. Shamel Ahmed Ugla when they asked about a detainee who said he was beaten as he was interrogated about his connections to al Qaeda: "If he was beaten, to hell with him," Ugla yelled. "Stop asking these questions."
(Please see the original for formatting and links which I did not reproduce.)
Saddam Hussein's brutal regime was removed, but under American occupation, abuse of prisoners continued.
Make no mistake about it - the American military, at its worst, is nowhere near as bad our enemies at their best. No military does as good a job caring for "enemy" populations as the US military - Vietnam and the Indian wars notwithstanding.
But, prisoner abuse occurred, due not just to negligence on the part of the civilian command authorities, but due to the active intervention of our civilian leadership to make sure certain harsh, abusive things happened.
Once American troops pull out, though, Iraq will wind up with another brutal regime, where the treatment of prisoners will be far worse - on a par with what happened under Hussein.
So, what were our troops sent in to die for?
Hussein's Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, and the Bush-43 regime knew that.
Hussein's Iraq was connected to the Oklahoma City bombing, but that has, so far, been covered up.
The invasion has been very lucrative for certain business interests.
Strategically, though, it was a blunder.
A secular regime was removed; the replacement will ultimately be one that pushes militant Islam.
America's reputation has suffered for various reasons.
America's federal debt has dramatically increased, leaving us far less able to deal with future issues, whether natural disasters, wars or economic catastrophes.
It will be interesting to see what the legacy of the Iraq war will be.
One thing is for sure - the Obama Administration has neither the intelligence, nor the integrity, nor the guts to fix the blunders of its predecessor.
In fact, we have sunk to a new level - far below where we were a couple of years ago.